Honest and people-oriented leaders are crucial for national progress

Published : Tuesday, 19 December, 2023 at 12:00 AM

The 12th National Election in Bangladesh is scheduled for January 7, 2024. The deadline for withdrawing the candidature was December 17, therefore the candidates for the 300 constituencies are practically set. A total of 2,716 nominations were initially filed with the EC and 26.91% of those nominations were initially ruled illegal, although many of those nominations were reclaimed following an appeal to the EC. The majority of these erroneous nominations were the result of incomplete nomination paperwork, prior criminal activity or accusations of criminal activity, failure to submit tax return and loan default. These discrepancies among the nomination seekers is concerning for the whole country as we all look for honest, credible and people-oriented leaders to be elected to ensure the welfare of the country.

Initially, 1,985 of the 2,716 nominations that were sent to the commission were deemed eligible to run in the next national elections. Several prominent candidates, including members of the ruling Awami League, were turned down for candidacies. A record amount of cancellations were made in preparation for the upcoming 12th National Parliamentary elections. Up to 118 candidates who planned to run in the next elections were discovered to be in default on their loans.Representation of the People Order, 1972 states that candidates are ineligible to run for office if they have not paid back defaulted loans before seven days of submitting their nomination papers. As per Article 12, the disqualification period for partners or directors of companies is one day prior to the nomination papers being submitted. In an effort to keep loan defaulters out of national elections, they were initially barred from running for office in 1991. But this time also, many loan defaulters intended to contest which raises questions over their honesty and commitment. It is the scenario even without considering the loan default status of the family members and dependents of the candidates.

Nevertheless, following the examination of nomination papers and the resolution of appeals at the EC, up to 2,260 candidates, from 28 political parties as well as independent candidates, were approved. Following the conclusion of the nomination withdrawal period on Sunday, the EC released data showing that 1,896 candidates will finally run in 300 parliamentary constituencies.  By announcing the final candidates for the next election, the EC has nearly fulfilled its mandate; but, questions remain about whether we truly have a selection of trustworthy, people-focused, and honest leaders.Bangladeshi politics has a rich history. It boasts a glorious past of fighting for national ideals and making enormous sacrifices, such as the Language Movement in 1952, the Mass Uprising in 1969, and the Liberation War in 1971. The most intelligent, trustworthy, morally upright, and socially profound individuals were involved in politics back then. Unfortunately, these days, some see politics as a family vocation, while others view it as merely a business.

A combination of expertise, honesty, integrity, empathy, and strong communication skills are necessary for good political leadership. We anticipate hearing from our leaders on important topics like health, education, and economic development. With a few notable exceptions, however, our politicians are typically observed disparaging and assaulting one another with crude language and weak justifications. Hence, we also fail to observe any constructive debates or conversations on the topic that directly affect citizens lives.

Despite being a West Minister democracy, the reality that Bangladeshs political standards are falling to appalling heights cannot be denied. The idea of political reconciliation, tolerance, honesty, human decency, and honoring the beliefs of others seems to be lost in our politics given the state of politics today. Two factors dominate modern politics: money and power. Elections are won by money, and those who succeed enjoy power. This trend has severely undermined formal accountability mechanisms and created a crisis in governance.

This time around, we came across a lot of candidates with outstanding financial obligations and criminal histories. They even have no qualms about manipulating their nomination form. Many of them were unable to submit the details of their tax returns. Many people lied on their nomination forms about how much their possession and assets were worth. Many entered politics only with the intention of using their position of authority to amass wealth or become widely recognized.

Besides, a people-oriented mindset, which can be advantageous to the country, was lacking in the majority of the contenders. Furthermore, the majority of them do not adhere to nationalistic ideology. We can hope for the best from these leaders. As a result, despite Prime Minister Sheikh Hasinas governments massive development work over the last 15 years, the youth are drifting away from politics.

Surprisingly, according to a January 2020 World Economic Forum research, 82% of young people between the ages of 15 and 29 said they would prefer to migrate rather than live in Bangladesh. Young peoples disenchantment and disengagement are definitely the result of the complete failure of our political leadership. Bangladesh needs capable leaders if it is to advance. Additionally, the country is about to face the grave repercussions of a leadership crisis if young and brilliant individuals continue to be unwilling to enter politics.

It is impossible to overestimate the importance of honest, credible, and people-oriented leadership in the dynamic world of international politics. Bangladesh needs such leaders in order to fight corruption, a problem that has been in the nation for many years. In order to eliminate corrupt processes, promote accountability, and make sure that public funds are allocated for the benefit of society rather than for individual benefit, honest leaders are prerequisite. Furthermore, encouraging a culture of transparency and sound governance requires honest leaders.

Likewise, societal cohesiveness and inclusion depend heavily on sincere leadership. Honest leaders are more likely to address the varied demands of their citizens, closing gaps and promoting harmony amongst various societal groups. Inclusion is essential to sustainable development and guarantees that all residents benefit from advancement.

There is no denying that, as our political candidates nomination forms make abundantly clear, we lack honest leaders. However, as we have already stated, Bangladesh cannot advance and the people will ultimately lose out in the absence of honest, credible, and people-centered leaders. Therefore, it is imperative that certain practical steps be taken to foster this kind of leadership.

Our Election Commission must implement a mechanism that will only allow candidates who are honest and accountable to run for office. In order to prevent candidates with a rugged background from winning office, the procedure of determining loan default status, income tax submission status, legal status, etc. should be automated. Not only must the assets of the candidate but also that of his family members and dependents be taken into consideration. A proper valuation of assets of the candidates and his family members should be introduced to eliminate false information as well as corruption from the process. PM Sheikh Hasina once ordered all her party men to submit their asset and income report to the party every year but that was not properly implemented. Such system should be introduced inside every political party of Bangladesh.

There should be electoral debate over the manifesto of different political parties prior to the election as that can provide the voters an idea about the credibility, commitment and people-oriented attitude of the candidates. Such debates should be done for every constituency along with from partys point of view. Moreover, such debate will help to attain political reconciliation, which is highly required in the context of our politics today.

In addition, political parties need to support leaders who are honest and sincere, regardless of their position within the party. Furthermore, the people ought to exercise their right to vote in order to select just those capable leaders whom they feel will best advance their own development. Voters are not to be swayed by an election candidates wealth, influence, or strength. They have to understand that it is about what lies ahead for them and their children.

We are rapidly approaching another national election. On Election Day, we believe the Bangladeshi citizens will elect the best leaders if we accept our duty to the nation. We hope Bangladesh obtains honest, credible and people-oriented leaders and ensure that the country rides on the right track of economic, cultural and humane development.

The writer is Chief Editor at Mohammadi News Agency (MNA) and Editor at Kishore Bangla

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